September 25, 2013 11.25 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul
Rugby rights are set to become the latest battleground between French pay-TV operators.
According to Le Figaro, Canal+ holds the rights to the National Rugby League (LNR) until 2015-16.
However, there is a clause in the contract that allows rugby managers to break it between September 1 and December 31 this year and this has alerted a number of parties including M6, L’Équipe 21 and TF1 with Eurosport.
In reality, though, the real battle will be fought out between Canal+ and the Qatari Bein Sport, with the latter having already estimated that it would secure an additional 500,000 subscribers should it win the exclusive rights to LNR.
These would be worth an additional €40 million to it in revenue, or €8 million more than Canal+ has paid for the rights.
Canal+ values the rights highly, as was demonstrated by it paying 14% more for them in the last round in May 2011 than it had previously despite not facing any rival bidders.
Interestingly, TV rights account for only 8% of revenues for rugby in France, the rest obtained from sponsorship and ticket sales.
Football, on the other hand, derives 65% of its revenues from TV rights. The LNR is expected to decide by the end of October if it will break the current agreement with Canal+.